Karl the Frog

Mission Street's Pop-Up Pond is Now Full of Frogs

The biblical storms which have soaked the Bay Area over the past few months may have finally turned apocalyptic. The Mission District—traditionally home to humans, pigeons, rats, and not a whole lot else—has a new neighborhood pet: frogs.

Mission Crater Lake, the pop-up pond that has sat on the corner of 22nd and Mission Streets since the fall, has been emitting a cacophony of croaking from its resident Kermits in recent days. As one tipster put it, the corner “sounded like a Florida swamp” on Tuesday night.

Last night, there was at least one gentrifrogger still making his presence known:

Our new amphibian neighbors are squatting at the site of three structure fires that left more than fifty predominantly low-income residents displaced and one dead. The previous building, which also housed Mission Market, Popeye’s Chicken, and several other businesses, was quickly torn down after the third fire out of safety concerns. The demolition left behind a hole in the ground that has become our new frog habitat.

It’s not entirely clear where the frogs came from or how they arrived at this busy corner of the Mission. But given the recent flooding and everything else terrible happening of late, this plague seems to be the latest local sign of the impending apocalypse.

Unfortunately with spring and dry months ahead, the frogs can expect a no-fault eviction in no time.

Welp

City Can't Figure Out What To Do With McCoppin Plaza And So Just Closes It Indefinitely

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try… oh whatever, who fucking cares. After struggling for several years to keep the homeless out of McCoppin Hub Plaza, Hoodline reports that the city has finally given up and just shut the thing down. Indefinitely.

According to John Updike, who heads the city’s Real Estate Division and in that capacity is in charge of the public space at Valencia and McCoppin Street, the plaza is now considered a construction zone and is off-limits to the public—as the chain-link fence that surrounds the park makes clear.

The chain-link fence is reportedly a placeholder until a permanent fence can be installed at a later date.

The city initially had high hopes for the mini-park, and rolled out the welcome mat for food trucks. The trucks never came, however, and homeless people began congregating there instead. But not to worry, Updike assured Hoodline that the indefinite closure is not at all about keeping out the homeless. Rather, it’s about public safety.

“There was a lot of abuse of the site and intimidation by people that frankly were doing illegal activities,” he told the publication. “There’s a lot of illegal activity that was occurring and it was to the detriment of the neighborhood being able to enjoy the rest of the open space.”

And while some may view the closure as a massive failure on the part of officials to utilize public land in a city where space is at a premium, perhaps this can be seen as a bold new crime-fighting strategy. Simply fence off areas where unsavory characters congregate and voilà, crime will disappear. 

Now all we need is enough chain-link fencing to enclose 49 square miles, and we’ll be good to go.

[Rendering of an imagined fence from 2015: San Francisco Public Works via Mission Local]

FINALLY

Signs Of Life at Old DeLano's IGA Suggest Imminent Grocery Outlet Opening

After numerous false starts, it appears the long-vacant DeLano’s IGA on South Van Ness between 24th and 23rd is finally approaching an opening date. As Hoodline reported last May, discount chain Grocery Outlet gained approval from the Planning Department in April to move forward with a new store at that location. And while the projected opening date of October 6th has come and gone, a peek into the building shows that products are now actually being stocked.

Even in its unopened state, the store looks to be positively bustling with life when compared to the empty shelves to which DeLano’s shoppers became accustomed.

Notably, Grocery Outlet is aiming to serve a very different demographic than the nearby Local Mission Market—a store known for its $12 tomato soup. This is all welcome news for Mission District residents that have seen the lot sit unused since 2010, as well as for anyone who likes purchasing Cheez-Its in bulk.

[Screenshot of the property in September: Google Maps]

One Man's Tag Is Another Man's Masterpiece

Mission District Residents Super Uptight About Graffiti

The Mission District has long drawn the attention of the national press, who have alternately labeled it “a million times more hipster than Brooklyn” and the city’s “creative hub.” And while those labels may or may not be accurate, a new report compiled by real estate company Trulia reveals an interesting fact about the people actually living in the neighborhood. It turns out Mission denizens are super uptight—at least when it comes to graffiti offending their delicate sensibilities.

A review of last year’s 311 calls to the city shows that the neighborhood had one of the highest number of complaints about tags in the entire city.

“The Mission, Chinatown and SoMa (South of Market) neighborhoods have the most graffiti complaints,” reads the report. “The Mission had 10,675 complaints in 2016 – making up almost one out of every four complaints made in the city.”

That’s just over 29 phone calls every day last year in the Mission alone. I guess people need something to do while waiting in all those lines.

[Photo: Timothy Palmer]

Well...

Chronicle Food Reviewer Thinks You're Stupid For Standing in Tartine's Bread Lines

If you’re one of the many, many people that have waited in line to sample the goods at Tartine Manufactory then the Chronicle’s top food reviewer has a message for you: You’re an idiot. At least that appears to be the takeaway of Michael Bauer’s recent review of the sprawling “multi-faceted maker’s space” that opened this past August on the corner of 18th and Alabama.

It seems that Bauer’s beef isn’t with the restaurant itself—which he practically falls over himself to shower praise on—but rather the fact that anyone could be bothered to wait in a line to eat there. 

“Much has been written about the Manufactory, and the lines have been long for breakfast and lunch; oftentimes there are about as many people waiting outside as there are seats inside,” he writes. “On at least three occasions I drove by with the intention of stopping, but even with the lure of the fabulous pastries, I couldn’t abide the lines and the prospect of scrambling for a seat inside.”

That’s right, the dude who literally gets paid to wait in lines can’t abide.

Thankfully for the ever-so-busy arbiter of all that is good, the restaurant started taking reservations in November—”a godsend for those of us who refuse to stand in line,” he notes. And yet, as the fact that he once reviewed Mission Chinese proves, Bauer has clearly spent plenty of time over the course of his 30-year career waiting in lines. So why the newfound aversion? Was he just trying to avoid being harassed by this guy?

Maybe. Or maybe he simply wanted to let you know that in the eyes of this esteemed critic, all you line-waiters are merely a bunch of chumps.

[Photo: northernfirespizza]

On To The Next

Bored With the Mission, NY Times Moves to Fetishize the Dogpatch

Ah, the Mission District. Remember that place? What with its Dolores Park, coffee, and Valencia Street, the Neighborhood Facebook Built seemed to have locked in its hot-new-thing status when in 2015 Business Insider declared it “a million times more hipster than Brooklyn.” The New York Times even got in on the fun, obsessing over Linea Caffe and weighing in on a burgeoning Mission microhood. But the Gray Lady is a fickle lover, and her wandering eye has found a new object of attraction: The Dogpatch.

In a piece last week, the paper passes over its old Mission District flame for the hotness of a neighbor to the east. Headlined “A Guide to America’s Next Great Art Neighborhood,” the story focuses on the Dogpatch’s role as a mecca for “the city’s pre-eminent gallerists.”

“While its name conjures images of roving canines,” the Times tells us, “the only wild things you’re likely to find in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood are the gang of intrepid young art dealers who have set up shop in the formerly forgotten bayside section of the city.”

Yes, those wild art dealers. Like the ones inhabiting the real estate investor-founded Minnesota Street Project, who SF Weekly reports are soon to share a home with Daniel Patterson’s second Alta location—a restaurant whose $26 deconstructed beef stroganoff just screams edgy.

And while the patrons of Just For You Cafe, the Dogpatch Saloon, or any number of neighborhood mainstays may disagree with the Times’ “formerly forgotten” label, it will nevertheless force them to deal with that age old question so familiar to their Mission District neighbors: Is a neighborhood only truly hip after the Times writes a style piece about it? And, once the paper of record has moved on and all you’re left with is long lines and overpriced condos, was the love affair worth it?

[Photo: torbakhopper]

Ride-Hail Wars

Video: Western Addition Don Quixote Attacks Uber in Impromptu Jousting Match

 All was not well last night on Divisadero Street, with one man’s apparent rage against the ride-hail machine sparking an impromptu jousting match that would have made any Renaissance Faire devotee proud. At around 7:45 p.m., a man began yelling and walking through traffic at the intersection of Divisadero and Hayes Street—a typical sight were it not for his armaments. Swinging two large wooden poles, it wasn’t long before he found something objectionable. In this case it just so happened to be an apparently passenger-less Uber driving south through the intersection on Divis. 

The man struck the Uber driver’s car with his poles—perhaps believing it to be the steed of his rival—prompting the driver to abandon the car mid-intersection and charge the Western Addition Don Quixote. The driver managed to grab one of the tinder spears, and it is at that point that the above video begins.

Perhaps realizing that this dragon was in fact a car, and that it had a now very angry owner, the man attempted to flee—but the Uber driver wasn’t having it and gave pursuit. It was shortly thereafter that the police arrived and promptly handcuffed both men (although witnesses quickly clarified who the driver was and police soon released him).

And just like that, balance was restored to the plains of the Western Addition— that is until the unrelated car crash on Fulton and Divis around 20 minutes later.

Perhaps people took our advice about getting lit at The Mill a little too seriously?

Controversy Du Jour: Feeding People

Mission Soup Kitchen Approved Despite Neighbors' Complaints About the Poors

Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen’s current Tenderloin location. [Photo: Google Street View]

The latest controversy tearing apart the Mission District’s gilded community has come to a close as a pair of nuns have been given the green light to move their soup kitchen from the Tenderloin to the Mission. Today, the San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of the relocation despite some neighbors’ fears that feeding the needy would cast a “long, dark shadow” over the neighborhood.

The vote concludes a nearly year-long battle for the nuns behind the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen. Last February, the soup kitchen found itself functionally evicted from its Tenderloin home after the nuns’ landlord more than doubled their rent. Self-help guru Tony Robbins then stepped in, buying the nuns their own space steps away from the 16th Street BART station.

But the cash of a millionaire media star wasn’t enough to curtail the nuns’ problems. Within weeks of Robbins’ gift, a group of mostly local condo-owners came together to formally oppose the soup kitchen from moving to the Mission Street location. As Mission Local reported at the time, citing a real estate broker who worked with the nuns, “[Members of the HOA] are trying to clean up the Mission and don’t want the homeless to be there. More crime and more loitering devalues the property.”

Feeding people is contentious business in the Mission, unless it’s done within the confines of Valencia Street’s immaculate cafeterias. And those condo-owners found themselves believing that the neighborhood has become a so-called “containing zone” for the less-fortunate—a fact the relocated soup kitchen would only exasperate.

As one local put it, per Mission Local:

“Everyday it’s very frightening for people like me to get to work,” said one neighbor, adding that she has lived in the neighborhood for two years and is regularly harassed for “being white and having a decent purse.”

“The last thing I need is another 150 people to try and fight my way to down 16th to get to the BART,” the woman said, in reference to the soup kitchen’s clientele.

Fortunately for the decent purse-havers of the Mission, the French nuns of Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth haven’t soured on their new neighbors. As they told the Chronicle, “Some people have told us they like the idea of our new soup kitchen, and that we should all do more for poor people. But some people don’t feel like that. We pray for them all.”

Again?

SFPD Announces Yet Another Cyclist Crackdown, Insists It's For Bikers' Own Good

The San Francisco Police Department is once again going after cyclists. The announcement, made yesterday, details a department-wide plan to ticket bikers in what officials describe as high-injury areas. In an interesting twist, this time around pedestrians are also to be on the receiving end of citations.

Per SFPD:

[Officers] will cite for violations when pedestrians cross the street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Bike riders will be stopped and citations issued when they fail to follow the same traffic laws that apply to motorists. All riders are reminded to always wear a helmet – those under 18 years of age must wear helmets by law. Pedestrians should cross the street only in marked crosswalks or at corners.

The victim-blaming crackdown, which is scheduled to take place today and several other days this month, is reminiscent of past efforts by Park Station Captain John Sanford to ticket cyclists on the Wiggle. His campaign led to a series of protests along the popular bicycle route, with people on bikes coming to a full and complete stop at every stop sign — jamming up traffic in the process.

The locations of today’s enforcement action are unknown, with SFPD saying only that officers had “mapped locations over the past 3 years where pedestrian and bike collisions have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes.”

Interestingly, SFPD appears to have learned at least one thing since the widely criticized 2015 crackdown. Namely, this time around the department is going after drivers as well. “Special attention will be directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks or any other dangerous violation,” the announcement clarifies.

Perhaps they realized that cyclists’ Idaho Stops didn’t cause the 18 pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2016.

[Photo: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition]

Jobs Down Munchery Creek

Munchery Delivers Unappetizing Pink Slips to 30 Employees

Meal-delivery startup Munchery continues to make news for all the wrong reasons. The company, which has struggled both with with food waste and losses in the millions of dollars per month, recently announced that it would layoff 30 employees from its Mission District headquarters. The Chronicle reports that the company’s new CEO, James Beriker, refused to say which positions—driver, chef, or back office—had been cut but assured the paper that things are looking up. 

“We think there’s demand for our product across the whole U.S.,” Beriker told the paper. “We have no intention of making any further layoffs.”

As we previously reported, Munchery has long struggled with neighborhood relations—being called out by neighbors for idling trucks, blocking traffic, and dumping garbage on the street. What impact, if any, these layoffs will have on day-to-day company operations remains unclear.

Bloomberg was able to confirm that those let go will include members of the “company’s culinary team, research and development staff, photographers and business development employees.” What’s more, two of Munchery’s founders are set to depart this month—perhaps suggesting that Americans’ appetite for roasted half game hen isn’t as large as executives initially hoped. 

“As with all journeys, there have been highs and lows, but we went through it together,” one of the departing founders, Tri Tran, wrote in an email to employees. “Our hope is that we all became better for it. […] You either win or learn, never lose.”

Among the list of things learned? Not screaming at nearby residents and managing to properly dispose of food waste are hopefully near the top.

[Photo: Munchery’s Alabama Street location via tipster]